Multimedia Storytelling

My last blog challenge: critique a multimedia video

So, I started searching for a multimedia video to critique. When I typed “multimedia videos” into Google, I expected the results to include websites such as mediastorm.com and californiaisaplace.com.  Instead, I ended up with “free online multimedia training videos” and videos about NASA and The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy… not exactly what I was looking for.  After searching “multimedia videos mediastorm californiaisaplace” (sometimes it helps to include websites or tags similar to what you’re searching for), I discovered the website storyminemedia.com.  The story that caught my eye was called “The Council”.

The first thing I liked about this video was that it gave you the choice of watching the video in one chunk or in three short webisodes. This is one of the key elements to new journalism: allowing your audience to decide how they want to view the story.

wait, What is a webisode? According to WikiPedia, A webisode is simply a web episode – collectively it is part of a web series, a form of new medium called web television that characteristically features a dramatic, serial storyline, where the primary method of viewership is streaming online over the Internet. While there is no set standard for length, most webisodes are relatively short, ranging from 3–15 minutes in length.

Webisodes are on the cutting edge of this new wave of journalism that our generation is experiencing. I’m finally starting to realize how exciting it is to be a journalism student at the University of Missouri in the year 2012. The traditional style of journalism is dying, so the the essence of journalism is in a vulnerable state. This is exciting, though! We now have the opportunity to recreate journalism, take it in a different direction, get creative and discover new ways to tell the world’s stories.  Or, as the creators of storyminemedia, Catherina & Elena, put it:

On the other side, the Chad Stevens, Bob Sachas, Brian Storms, and Richard Koci Hernandezes of the world were imploring us not to give up. This is an exciting time to be a storyteller. The industry is being given a chance to create sustainable models for the new media landscape and help pave the way for the next generation

back to the critique:

While I liked the personal option of watching the video as a whole or in parts, I think the creators stopped short of their potential.  There are ways they could have made this story even more versatile.  In this age of multimedia, you really need to focus in on the multi aspect of storytelling to be successful. So, tell the story in multipule ways! I would have liked to see a text story accompany the video for people who want to read on.  Perhaps they could include more in-depth bios about the profiled candidates or explain why they chose to tell this story in the first place. Videos are fun and catchy, but a text story allows the viewer to go back and reference information. I forgot where the school was located, but would need to re-watch the video to refresh myself.

In addition to a text story, a photo gallery could mostly definitely be included. As I’m sure the video’s photographers would agree, still photos tell a story in a very different way than video as they allow the viewer to reflect on the image for a few extra moments and really analyze and appreciate what they see. Photo captions would also add context to this story.

Aside from these suggestions, though, I actually believe it was the simplicity of the layout that drew me in. With the constant overflow of information and images we get from the internet, I appreciate websites that are simple. StoryMineMedia has a clean look to their site which is very appealing. It’s easy to navigate, and not feeling overwhelmed by so many options is quite refreshing. There are definitely ways; however, to include more information to a webpage without complicating the layout so that if you’re looking for more, you can find it.

This theme of simplicity carries throughout the photography and video editing of the webisode, making it enjoyable to watch.  The constant shallow depth of field and soft focus lead your eyes to the main subject of the shot, as the rest of the details blur into the background or foreground. Honestly, though, this excessive use of shallow DOF is becoming a major cliche in short films.  It’s a little too romantic, if you know what I mean.  Don’t get me wrong, I, too, love how it looks. Still, I can see how this style of photography could get old if it continues to be overused. It shouldn’t be used all the time, but sparingly and in the appropriate situations — yes!

What really makes this video great, I think, is the attention to detail. It’s colorful and really paints a picture of the middle school environment. The clips are short and the variety is wide. It kept my interest the entire time. The video follows through from the beginning of elections to the end, creating a complete story that leaves you with a good feeling. It’s fresh and enjoyable.

I think one of the other strengths of this website is its connection with social media. Catherina and Elena ask their audience and professional colleges for feedback in order to “made informed decisions throughout [the] creative process.” On the sidebar of their website are their most recent tweets.

Searching for more inspiration

I will continue to be on the lookout for websites that emphasize multimedia reporting and storytelling for my own inspiration.  In the meantime, if anyone has suggestions or wants to promote their own work — please comment below!

PS: I had some more luck when I searched “multimedia storytelling” in Google

Still learning how to use my camera

I’ve had my Dad’s Nikon D50 at school with me for over four months now and although I use it all the time, I am still learning the equipment.

So, I decided to teach myself how to adjust the +/- Exposure Compensation while familiarizing myself more with aperture priority.  I did this through trial and error.  I figure I’m not the only one who struggles with knowing how to adjust my camera settings… which is why I’ve decided to blog my results.I’m a visual learner, so the only way I’d ever really understand aperture and exposure was to take a ton of photos and then compare the differences. Hope this helps someone else in the future, too.

I kept the ISO consistent at 1600 and the subject of focus as the middle of the bear’s face.

These photos show the aperture decreasing from f/3.5 to f/18 at exposures of -1, 0 and 1. Increasing the exposure obviously makes the photo brighter while decreasing the aperture increases the depth of field (notice how the subject stays in focus while the background details become more in focus).

Do you link with love?

I added a ‘LINKwithlove’ button to my blog today.

I saw this on a friend’s personal blog, started reading up on it and think it’s an absolutely great idea!

When you post a LINKwithlove button, you’re showing respect for intellectual property online. It’s so easy to copy and paste photos and content online and claim them as your own these days. Just because you can do it (and do it easily), however, doesn’t mean you should. The internet is still new enough that ethical behavior guidelines for sharing information online are sometimes unclear.

LINKwithlove offers a list of articles that discuss the legal issues of Pintrest. I found the following especially helpful:

So, it sounds like Pinterest is edging on danger. We need internet police enforcing copyright laws. Something needs to change. Artists, writers, creators, and anyone with an idea deserves to own the right to their own work without having it stolen by a careless web surfer. We need to educate ourselves and then each other on the ethics of online sharing. Start by LINKing with love.

Catching up on the news

Somehow I survived without ever watching the news before college.  Okay, that’s an exaggeration.  Sometimes I watched the news… but not as much as the average American (which I’m sure is still not enough). I mean, occasionally I would hear Fox 9’s nightly newscast in the background while finishing my homework or click on a headline story online, but for some reason I never took the initiative to really keep up with current events.  Sometimes my classmates would be talking about something, and I felt like I was always the last one to know.

Yet, somehow I am now a journalist… or at least, an aspiring journalist.  Now, I crave the news. I’m constantly surrounded by the news. I made it my goal to no longer be the last to know. Honestly, one of my motivations for studying journalism was probably my insane curiosity, impatience and desperate need to be the first to know what’s happening.

Now that I’m a sophomore, I’ve started to get the hang of keeping with with current events — checking Twitter daily, watching the news some mornings, glancing at the newspaper or sitting down to read it if I take the time, searching the top news sites for headlines, and even just listening to what people are talking about. I remember how frustrating and overwhelming it was as a freshman, being expected to always know what was happening in the world.  Growing up, my family didn’t really watch the news nor did we discuss current events.  So, I had to play catch up and make it a habit to pay attention to the news.

When I realized that all these other journalism students knew more than me, I felt incredibly naive and ignorant.  It was slightly embarrassing.  So, I downloaded every news app to my itouch that I could think of and I make an effort every day to learn something new.

Getting involved with KCOU really gave me the exposure I needed.  Reporting on a story once a week forced me to quickly learn about all the happenings on campus and build a habit of always looking for a story.  When I became an anchor, I needed to summarize the latest local, state, national and world news into an hour show. That experience at the radio station gave me a huge boost and put me on track as a news-conscious journalist.

After reading this article by Pew Research Center, it seems the average American may be worse off than I thought when it comes to knowing current events.  How do we make people care about the news? Suggestions???

 

Brainpower Boosts

Feeling dumb? Need some inspiration? Can’t focus? Eat some Smarties.

My 7th grade teacher would always give us Smarties before a test.  She thought she was so funny. I appreciated the effort.

Also, try something on this list below.  If one thing doesn’t work for you, don’t worry — there are 49 other ways to boost your brainpower.

I think I came across this list during one of my late night Google searches in high school.  It was probably 2 a.m. and I still had a paper to finish and a quiz to study for and I was desperate to keep my mind awake.  By the way, does anyone else feel like studying in college is so much more enjoyable than homework in high school?  Maybe it’s just me.  Anyways, take a look at this list and let me know what works for you! (I bolded the ones that apply to my life.)

1) Meditate — Meditation has been known to increase IQ, relieve stress, and promotes higher levels of brain functioning. Meditation also activates the “prefrontal cortex” of the brain, an area responsible for advanced thinking ability and performance.
2) Draw A Picture — Drawing stimulates the right-hemisphere of the brain and inspires creativity. Get out the colored pencils and begin drawing your way to a powerful brain.
3) Exercise — Long-term exercise has been proven to increase brain power and even create new neurons in the brain. Go out and get a natural high off of your own brain chemistry through exercise!
4) Brainwave Entrainment — Brainwave entrainment is a safe, innovative way to stimulate and shape the brain and it’s functioning. You can literally build up more control over your life and harness your brain’s potential!
5) Avoid Junk Food – Junk food has been proven to decrease energy in the body and promotes “brain fog.” Cut some junk food from your diet, and reap the benefits of a more calm, focused brain chemistry.
6) Deep Breathing — Deep breathing actually increases oxygen levels and blood-flow to the brain. 10-15 minutes of daily deep breathing can make a huge difference in the quality of your life and brain’s functioning potential.
7) Learn A New Language — Learning adds more structure to the brain and improves the brain’s speech centers. Hablas espanol? It may be time for you to take a class or program to supplement your job-skills and brain power!
8) Take Fish Oil — Fish oil supplements are literally like membrane material for the brain. The 2 primary components of EPA and DHA each act to strengthen both the emotional center of the brain and boost focus. There is an increase in overall brain activity after taking fish oil for awhile.
9) Laugh It Up — Laughter causes a natural release of the brain’s endorphins — chemicals that drown out pain and increase overall wellbeing. Laughter is a well known, natural stress reducer. Watch a comedy, crack a joke, and increase those endorphin levels!
10) Engage In Debate — A good, healthy debate strengthens the brain’s ability to think quickly and apply intelligence to verbal situations. Work to build up your brain power by engaging in plenty of healthy debate. Just ask someone who they are voting for in the presidential election and you’ll definitely provoke a debate!
11) Take A Multivitamin — Vitamins are great for the brain, and if it does not get enough of a certain vitamin through daily diet, consider a multivitamin. Multivitamins help facilitate the functioning of a healthy body and enriched brain. Start popping a vitamin each morning for awhile and chances are good that you’ll notice a difference!
12) Drink Red Wine — Alcohol in moderation has been proven to be good for the brain. Why? It is rich in antioxidants — chemicals that actually protect the brain! One glass daily for women and two for men is generally considered a healthy amount.
13) Eat Healthy — You know what ‘healthy’ is, so why not eat healthy and improve your brain? The brain requires a certain amount of energy to reach it’s maximum level of functioning. Eating chocolate cake and chips instead of fish and legumes, well maybe that’s why you cannot think clearly.
14) Change Your Environment — To keep your brain properly stimulated, it is important to keep changing your environment. Drive a new route to work, eat at a new restaurant on Friday night. Changing the environment helps change the brain!
15) Set Goals — Setting goals activates areas of the brain associated with positive thinking and action. Setting goals is great for achieving success and prosperity in life and boosting your brain.
16) Listen To Music — Studies have proven that listening to music strengthens the right-hemisphere of the brain and literally changes the structure. Those same studies have found that people who listen to music are generally smarter and have more emotional intelligence than those who don’t.
17) Be Empathetic — Being empathetic and trying to understand the emotions of others is a skill that your brain can learn. Being empathetic is definitely a powerful trait to have and allows your brain to relate to the emotions of others.
18) Avoid Stress — A little bit of stress will never hurt anybody. Too much stress actually causes detrimental increases in the hormone “cortisol” which in high levels, kills brain cells and suppresses brain functioning.
19) Think Positive — If you are currently very good at thinking positively, chances are good that you already have a more powerful brain than those “Negative Nellies.” Take 10 minutes daily to think more positive and start noticing an improvement in thinking abilities and problem solving skills.
20) Brainstorm — A good brainstorming session to think of new, stimulating ideas is a great way to boost your brains ability to think creatively. Brainstorming is actually a different way of thinking that will equip your brain with a quick creative boost.
21) Write An Article — Writing is linked to an improved memory and expression of thoughts. When you write, you are strengthening your brain’s natural ability to convey thoughts and feelings. Writing is a great way to exercise your ability to analyze and build a thought process with critical thinking. Journals, diaries, blog entries, and writing stories are phenomenal ways to fulfill your brain.
22) Visualize — Visualization has been associated with focus at a deeper level. Many successful athletes that are able to play “in the zone” actually visualize their game at a deeper level. Visualization has been linked to lowered stress, increased creativity, and peak mind-body performance.
23) Get Some Sleep — Be sure to always fulfill your brain’s need for sleep. Sleep clears out mental clutter and unimportant thoughts. Getting a good night’s sleep can also be the difference between a sharp memory and feeling forgetful. Everyone has different sleep requirements, be sure to fulfill yours! If you don’t get enough sleep — you may want to take a nap…
24) Do Self-Hypnosis — The power of hypnotic suggestion is definitely real. You can change aspects of your thought process and learn to shift your focus by taking the time to do some self-hypnosis. Hypnosis research shows that by practicing hypnosis, an individual experiences lowered stress, increased pain tolerance, and clear thinking. Try it out for yourself if you haven’t already!
25) Do Crossword Puzzles — Crossword puzzles bring out your brain’s ability to critically think and recall past memories. The challenge of completing crossword puzzles is definitely mentally invigorating and stimulating. If you enjoy reading the newspaper, be sure to check out the daily crossword puzzles section and build up that brain power!
26) Eat Nuts — Brazil and South American University students swear by eating nuts before taking exams. They notice that eating them is correlated with an increase in test scores. New studies are beginning to prove nuts effectiveness at increasing brain power. If you do not eat a lot of nuts, try it sometime and reap the brain related benefits!
27) Read Books — Reading books teaches your brain to adapt to absorb large amounts of information in shorter periods of time. Books challenge your thinking abilities and memorization skills, as well as boost vocabulary and critical thinking skills. Not only do you learn something from reading a book, but your brain power increases as you build up the book load.
28) Listen To Classical Tunes — Listening to classical music activates the left hemisphere of the brain, which is why classical music usually helps students do better in mathematics and writing. If you haven’t yet tried listening to some Mozart, consider it! Mozart has been linked to an 80 % increase in spatial intelligence scores!
29) Play “Brain Age” — New games like “Brain Age” for the nintendo DS and Big-Brain Academy help promote quick thinking and essential brain skills. These games work wonderful for improving thinking speed and natural problem solving skills. I’ve had a chance to play these games before and I can personally vouch for their effectiveness!
30) Take A Nap – Taking a nap has been proven through research to significantly improve task-performance and thinking abilities. If you are feeling tired throughout the day and have time to take a quick nap, it is recommended. Naps are a wonderful refresher and quick little mental booster.
31) Turn Off The T.V. – Watching T.V. may not be the only reason which rotting begins in the brain, but it is a key ingredient to the rotting process. A little T.V. will never hurt anybody, but it does definitely change brain functioning. The act of watching T.V. slows brainwaves and causes a decline in brain fitness.
32) Paint A Picture — Being able to visualize where you want paint to go on paper sparks pure creativity from within. Painting is an exercise that gets the right-brain fully functioning and improves your creative side. If you haven’t tried painting a picture, give it a shot and notice that you’re likely to feel and be more creative.
33) Start Crying — Don’t be afraid to cry when the time is right! Crying actually heals emotions and promotes healthy circulation within the brain. Those who are able to cry are actually cleansing the inside of their brain, which is another very healthy way to increase brain power.
34) Eat Less — Eating too much food has the effect of decreasing blood-flow to the brain and increasing blood-flow to the digestive system. Therefore, if you are able to cut-back on the total amount of food you consume, you will have enhanced brain functioning. In several lab studies, rats on a calorie-restricted diet had increased blood flow to their brains.
35) Eat Breakfast — When kids who hadn’t eating breakfast for awhile, began to eat breakfast, their math grades went up an entire letter grade (on average). Breakfast is probably the most important meal of the day — it provides your body with fuel for the rest of the day. If you don’t have time to eat an entire breakfast in the morning, at least have some sort of snack… It could give your brain a powerful edge!
36) Go For A Walk — Exercise deifnitely benefits the brain, and walking is a great form of exercise that is easy and very effective for boosting brainpower. Walking puts your mind in a relaxed state of clear thought and brain function. Walking gives your brain a chance to wander and free itself from any troubling thoughts.
37) Mimic Others — Being able to mimic other’s actions and talk activates several areas of the brain that are usually inactive. Mimicing others, if done in a fun, playful manner, can improve your brain power and the brain’s natural ability to adapt quickly when faced with new situations.
38) Solve Puzzles — Solving puzzles is a great way to stimulate your brains ability to critically think and process information. Puzzles are thought provoking, challenging, and a fun activity. The great thing about puzzles is that they require activity in the left-hemisphere of the brain to work with, and transfer information to, the right hemisphere’s visual center of the brain. Want a more integrated brain? Solve a puzzle!
39) Do Neurofeedback — Neurofeedback is a great way to learn to consciously control your brain wave patterns. Neurofeedback builds brain structure and helps promote flexibility within a brain’s neural network. Though neurofeedback is somewhat costly, if you’ve got enough money — it may very well be the best investment you can make for your brain!
40) Cut Alcohol Consumption — Alcohol in moderation isn’t terrible for the brain, too much alcohol is damaging to brain health and function. If you want to boost brain power, cutting alcohol is a great way to do it. Alcohol can cause memory problems and encourage “foggy,” disorganized thinking.
41) Live A Drug-Free Lifestyle — Everyone knows that drugs are bad for them. Drugs do not foster creativity, they kill creativity and deplete brain cells. Depending on the drug, effects can range from brain bleeding, to cell loss, to impairments in neural growth. Live drug free and keep your brain more powerful!
42) Drink Fruit Juice — Drinking fruit juice revitalizes the brain and provides cells with a refreshing jolt of nutrients. Great juices to drink include: grape juice, orange juice, cranberry juice, and apple juice. Most juices provide your brain with vital nutrients which in turn, provide you with more mental energy and focus.
43) Be Self-Aware — When you learn to let go of ego-driven and emotional aspects of life, rational thinking kicks in. Rational thinking will allow you to become self-aware, which in turn allows you to make better future decisions to achieve optimal brain health. Activities like meditation, self-hypnosis, and introspection allow us to increase our self-awareness.
44) Take Gingko Biloba — Gingko Biloba has been scientifically researched and documented to significantly increase blood-flow to the brain. Gingko Biloba is a farily inexpensive way to pump up your brain’s blood-flow. Increased bloodflow to the brain is correlated with an increase in focus and problem solving. Try some Gingko Biloba and allow your brain to reap the benefits!
45) Have Sex — Having sex is a great way to naturally release vital hormones in the brain. When involved in a loving relationship, having sex improves social connection as well as emotional intelligence. Sex is connecting, stress-relieving, and a great way to give your brain a boost. Chances are that sex will also improve your confidence and ability to think positively!
46) Drink Caffeine — Research shows that students that drink coffee before exams, have higher scores. Why? Caffeine seems to stimulate activity in the brain, speed up thinking, and improve focus. Too much caffeine is never good as it can cause stress or trigger anger. A little bit, however, may be the ticket to an “A” on your test. Drink some and find out how it affects your focus and thinking abilities!
47) Sniff Some Basil — I personally haven’t tried this method, but there seem to be many claims testifying for Basil’s effectiveness at improving overall brain function. Either way, certain fragrances actually change brain functioning. Taking a whiff of peppermint speeds up brain functioning, while other fragrances actually slow things down! Since scent is the strongest thing tied to memory, some good fragrances can definitely help out brain functioning.
48) Stay In School — If you are in school, chances are good that you will boost your brain power more than the average dropout! Keeping up with school work, means giving your brain a good workout in areas of self-discipline, learning, and mental processing. Stay in school, or do something to always be learning something new!
49) Ask Questions — Asking questions is a phenomenal way to keep your brain in shape. Get in the habit of questioning others and their thoughts. Questions can provoke new thoughts and ideas and asking them is a great way to build up brain power!
50) Re-Read This List – Want to boost your brain power? Start by re-reading this list and highlighting several methods that you can apply to your life. As a matter of fact, print this list out and staple it up someplace that you will view everyday. That way, when walking past the list, you can take a glance and randomly choose an activity to boost your brain power!

Graffiti on Mizzou Columns

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MU maintenance painter, Brian Hanlon, washes off graffiti on the far left column late Wednesday morning.

Brian Hanlon from campus facilities was sent in around 11 a.m. Wednesday, April 11 to clean graffiti off of one of the MU Columns.

“It looked like the name ‘Alec’ was written in red lipstick or wax crayon,” Hanlon said.

Hanlon did not know when the incident occurred or who was responsible for the vandalism, but suspects he was called in not long after the graffiti was discovered.

Fortunately, the writing washed off fairly quickly. Hanlon finished up right in time for a tour group to pass by and admire the historic columns.

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A tour group of prospective MU students pass by a faint wet spot on the left column only a few minutes after Hanlon scrubbed off the graffiti.

Graffiti on the columns is not a common sight, however, there have been some more extreme cases of vandalism at this symbolic sight in the past.

In April 2000, the letters “iBONO” were spray-painted on each of the columns. Last March, a drawing made of mud that read “Love is the Message” was also found on one of the columns.

Another music review — The Esterhazy Quartet

A Nice Performance

The Esterhazy Quartet performed at MU’s Whitmore recital hall on March 19.  Perhaps it was the combination of a long day and classical music late that evening, but halfway through the performance, I was fighting to keep my eyes open.  It wasn’t the graceful melodies; in fact, the music was quite chaotic.  What really lost my attention was the seemingly lack of sense, focus and narration to the music.

There’s no doubt, the group was talented and experienced playing together.  The blend was great, the intonation was nearly perfect and each musician communicated well with the rest of the quartet.  They cut off together and paused in unison.  So what was missing? The artistic expression.

The performance was too consistent for my taste.  The music never really left the page.  And by that, I mean the musicians simply played what was written and met our minimal expectations.  Overall, it was a nice performance.  Who wants nice, though?  The performance lacked passion and musicality.

Several of the songs seemed to blend together, and sometimes I couldn’t tell if I had just heard two separate pieces or one extremely long piece.  Although I expected more extensive pieces in a classical concert, the quartet lost my interest after the first thirty minutes.  It was difficult to engage in the music when the songs were so similar and yet abstract.

The repertoire had little flow.  There is a reason most concerts begin with an attention grabber, transition with a slow song, bring up the excitement again in the next piece, and end the performance with a more popular tune.  Thus I was pleased at the end when I recognized the traditional hymn songs.

For most of the pieces, I failed to find a story line to the songs. When listening to the music, my mind could not latch onto an idea – not a theme or a storyline or an emotion.  The songs they chose sounded disorganized.  The lack of narration or personality in the piece made it difficult to listen to.   I did not mind the absence of vocals or lyrics to the songs, but I would have liked to know the meaning behind the songs.  The song titles gave no hints.  I wondered about the inspirations behind the songs and the message of the piece.  I tried to imagine what lyrics might accompany the melodies, yet my mind was overwhelmed with the raw sound.  I just struggled to make sense of what I was hearing.

The addition of the clarinet added some character to the performance.  However, I personally felt that the clarinet did not fit with the rest of the group.  It sounded out of place, and perhaps this was the intention of the song, but I wouldn’t know because I failed to understand the themes of the pieces.  Still, it added some needed variety to the concert and a rich tone to the quartet’s blend.

In conclusion and with a dose of honesty, I would not pay to see this quartet play again in the future. Considering it was a free concert, it met my expectations and I appreciated the addition of entertainment to my Monday night.

If you wish, you can listen to one of their songs here. I must say, the quartet sounds much better outside a performance setting.  When I listen a second time, the music is truly beautiful and I feel like I may not have given these musicians the proper appreciation.